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Jordan ‘will always be key US ally’ — academic

By Khetam Malkawi - Aug 13,2016 - Last updated at Aug 13,2016

AMMAN — Jordan will always be an important ally to the US, and this historical alliance will not change regardless of who wins the upcoming US presidential elections, according to an American political scientist. 

Sean L. Yom, an academic who has published several research papers and publications about Jordan, said that many factors govern the relationship between the US and Jordan, and that these would not be affected by the US election result. 

Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel is a key part of Jordanian and American foreign policies, and the treaty is a foundation of the alliance between Washington and Amman, Yom said in a recent interview with The Jordan Times. 

Jordanian-US ties date back over 60 years and there is an understanding that the two countries complement each others’ regional interests, for example in the war against terrorism, Yom said during a recent research trip to the Kingdom. 

“Jordan is a critical ally,” the researcher stressed, noting that whether the US wants to destroy Daesh, provide technical expertise to rebuild Iraq or help negotiate a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli crisis, Jordan is an essential partner. 

Jordan would also play a key role in any US effort to ensure security in the Arab Gulf, he added. 

“There is no issue in the region that Jordan has no relation to,” said Yom, who is an associate professor at Temple University.

Most American policymakers, whether Republican or Democrat, understand the importance of the Jordanian-US alliance, and election results would not change that, he said.  

Meanwhile, the researcher said that although Jordan has managed to implement political and democratic reforms since 2011, these measures must be twinned with economic reforms. 

“The reforms that took place in Jordan were not enough, but I think that there are many people in the government who understand this,” Yom said, adding that the economy is the most important issue.

Democratic reform and economic reform have to be done together,” he stressed. 

Yom noted that the government has implemented several initiatives to improve Jordanians’ access to employment over the last year. 

There is greater cooperation with the World Bank to create job programmes for the youth, and there is a realisation that there are many unregistered foreign workers who take jobs that Jordanians might want, he said.

Although the Kingdom is a stable country surrounded by turmoil, stability is not enough, according to Yom, who said that Jordan has the potential to be an economic power in the region.

“We don’t want Jordan to [just] exist; we want Jordan to thrive. We want Jordan to be an economic power house and political leader. [It is] not enough for Jordan today to say, in my opinion, ‘We are not like Syria’… That is a very low benchmark, but Jordan has the capacity to be the most liberal monarchy and state in the Middle East,” he said.

The Kingdom can combine a proper democratic system with a thriving technology-driven economy, the professor suggested.

“Jordan can still be a model for the Arab world to show that you do not need oil to be an economic leader,” he said, explaining that Jordan has the potential to be the first monarchy in the history of the Arab world to combine a functional democratic system with an economic framework that does not rely on natural resources.

According to Yom, to achieve this, Jordan needs a sustained commitment from the international community, economic reforms and international expertise. 

In addition, Jordan needs a sustained commitment within the government, said Yom, noting that ministries need to improve their coordination when planning initiatives. 

The Kingdom also needs greater engagement from its citizens, particularly from young Jordanians, he added. 

 

“There is a realisation that there is chronic apathy and disengagement from the youth in Jordan in politics, and this is created because of years of broken promises and the economic situation,” Yom said. 

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